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An Interest-Led Nature Study

Sometimes technology serves our natural learning process nicely. On a perfect summer day, we spent a full afternoon in a relaxed interest led study of our nature pal exchange , and I’d like to share!imageI made a Pinterest board of nature photos of Hawaii in the area of our naturepal family. I laid out all of the nature bits sent to us, with a relatable book, pencils, magnifying glass, and journal.imageBased on questions they had about the nature book our pals made,  we watched a Youtube video of making Poi, from Kalo.image

imageOur nature pal gave us a gorgeous Ku Kui necklace. We wanted to know what a ku kui nut was and how to make a necklace, we searched far and wide on Youtube and Pinterest.imageThe girls favorite thing to do was open the bottle of Hawaiian salt and taste it (which I was reluctant to at first for some reason, but you gotta keep it breezy (link) and I’m so glad I did). We talked about the taste and continued tasting as we watched a video of the Hawaiian salt factory that makes this specific kind of salt, found only on the island our nature pals live on. imageWe used our Pinterest photos to identify which parts of Hawaii our sea glass was probably from (again their doing not mine)!imageWe watched a tutorial video our nature pal sent us on how to make music with the river rocks they gave  us. imageWe spent a lot of time feeling the soft sand sample, dropping shells into it, shaking it up to see how it mixed.imageBased on a photo from our Pinterest board we imagined baby sea turtles popping their hard out of the sand. This was a particular fascination with the girls.

We looked at the book that I set out. We talked about what constitutes and island, observed the map, and Fin made a map of her own.  imageThe girls rounded out the study with imaginative play adding critters to the beach sene.imageFor our next session I added a bucket of water and critters to let them go wild with imaginative play. I held them off from dumping the sand and shells, to preserve it for closer study. But now it’s time to let them explore on their own terms. Through play! image

And that’s that!

For more on Inquiry-led learning click here!

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Finding our Rhythm

I’m often asked by other mamas “how do you do it?” or “where do you find the time to do art projects? I have laundry piling up!” It’s a common concern with homeschooling. How to get it all done. The truth is you don’t! No one gets it ALL done. Time is our most valuable asset and must be guarded. We must create a life that reflects what we value and let the rest go. imageWe follow a rhythm vs. a schedule. Life is fluid and ever-changing. Schedules are not. We follow a basic flow each day and week. Meals, naps, and bedtime happen around the same time which anchors our day and my sanity. We typically go to the library on Wednesday mornings and have a nature co-op on Thursday. But what happens around these times is an exciting ebb and flow, slowing and rushing as our family needs!imageI’d like to share our rhythm with you while encouraging you to find what works for your family! Isn’t that the beauty of homeschool?! The freedom to find and do what works for your family culture? I’d also like to point out that we value slow and meaningful living. We try to keep margin in our life so that we can dig deep into the things we ARE doing. This is what works for US!imageAre you ready for it…

Read. Project. Play.

It’s that simple! That’s the pulse of our day!

Read

We wake up each morning, prepare breakfast together, and gather in our reading nest, or on a picnic blanket with our morning basket. Both girls pray for our day, we recite a memory verse. I read a Psalm. We are reading through the gospels, starting in Matthew. I read a small paragraph (until the subject changes). We have a small memory board where we recall what the story was about and draw out an illustration together. imageThis is THE most important part of our day. Being in the word together each morning, sharing in the mind of Christ.
The girls then take turns choosing which picture book we read next! Right now or reading nest is full of Jan Brett books and we are LOVING them! I keep clipboards, paper, and markers in our basket. The girls typically sketch away while I read, oh and eat breakfast of course!imageWhen our bellies and minds are full of yummy food and good ideas we clean up and work on a project!

Project

Project time varies and changes! Sometimes we do something I set out the night before (play dough and nature parts, observational drawing, a hand craft etc.) Sometimes the girls have an idea they want to see pursue from the feast of ideas we absorbed in our reading time.
Essentially, project time is relaxed but intentional hands on work! It’s a time where they know I will sit along side them an assist them in pursing their own ventures. The girls drive the motivation and direction of their project! I simply offer my time!image imageimageThe product is second to the process. This is a time to create, discover, make mistakes, and critically think!imageWhen their a bit older, I’d like the project to be on-going process with revisions, bunny trails and depth. Weeks and months of spiraling discoveries!

Play

After we wrap up a project (and clean up of course, because I’m type A😆) it’s free play! Contrary to all the schooly ideas we have engrained in our minds, this is actually the most important part of our day. Yes they need a hefty diet of good books and yes crafting together is of merit, but much is lacking if unmediated play isn’t to follow. This is when their little minds test limits, expand ideas, and self regulate ON THEIR OWN TERMS!imageI stay in an earshot but distinctively make myself unavailable so they can work through problems on their own. I grab a book or a load of laundry and get out of the way of the very important work of play.
imageDramatic play comes to life. imageNegotiation and compromise take place.imageConfidence and self assuredness amplify.imageResearch swells.imageAutonomy grows.

Little people get to be who they are.imageIt’s beautiful.
SO that’s it! That’s our rhythm. We eat lunch and nap and start the whole process over again in one form or another.
What’s yours?

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Cultivating Traditions: June/July/August

Summer days sort of run together don’t they? The days are longer and we tend to push bedtime back to linger in the cool evening breeze.

I love the simplicity of summer, it exudes the character I have been struggling to frame our homeschool around all year! Keep it simple silly! Thank you summer for the sweet reminder!imageOur summer can be described in 3 words: Bugs, Books, and Backyard!

Bugs:
Cicadas and cicada shells have been an obsession in our home again this summer. We have quite the collection going. We’ve enjoyed discovering their mysterious life spend over a decade underground and just a few short weeks up here with us.imageMarvelous creatures. Aren’t they fascinating?imageFin, age 4, painted this lovely cicada family with acrylics and oil pastels.

We’ve had a rich learning experience joining the summer Nature Pal Exchange. We gathered nature bits from our own neighborhood, identified them, and made art with them.imageThe prickly pear cactus stuck out to us the most (no pun intended). Whether in a Jan Brett book or on the street the girls spot them everywhere!

I wonder if they would be as enthusiastic about them (or anything for that matter) if I would have sat them down with a worksheet?imageOur exchange family sent us the most beautiful nature finds from Hawaii!! The rich experience continued as we combed over them, tasted the Hawaiian salt, made music with the river rocks, and made small worlds with the sand, shells, and our ocean creatures. Stay tuned for more on this project up on the blog soon!

Butterflies and caterpillars have been a great source of inquiry in our home over the year.
imageWe ordered our insect lore butterfly kit and are excited to explore our questions authentically!imageAs they grow, spin a chrysalis, and transform into butterflies!

Books:
My goal this year is to build our family culture around books and it seems effortless now. Some days I really don’t want to read aloud but where my motivation waivers the girls flourishes! They beg to read books now! Diligence pays off.
Some of our favorites this summer have been the cuddly creatures in Jan Brett books.imageOf, course caterpillar and butterfly books, along with other natural science books.imageimageAnd the beautiful rhymes and illustrations of My BookHouse nursery rhymes!imageBackyard:
If we aren’t reading or painting we are outside. Well to be honest we try to do those things outside too! Un-regulated free play is best educational experience out of all that we do.imageMud/water play is imaginative play and early literacy practiceimageBike riding and climbing is gross motorimageFree play is self regulated and cooperativeimageSand play is science and sensoryimageScience discoveries are endless!

And that’s it! That sums up our first year of school and the end of our cultivating traditions series! I think I’ve been the biggest learner of all! Prayerfully the simplicity of summer will spill over into a simple and meaningful fall! Here we go!

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨